How to collect overdue payments?
Thread poster: Toshiro Yamaguchi

Toshiro Yamaguchi
Local time: 07:56
English to Japanese
+ ...
Mar 24

Hello community,

I am a freelance translator, have been recently working closely with two agencies with various projects. Not through this ProZ site but we directly email each other the source files and completed files. Rates and terms of payment have been agreed on email and stated on 'signed contract' or 'purchase order' all on electronically.

I translate between Japanese and English, work from New York, USA. One agency seems to be located in Copenhagen, Denmark, and
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Hello community,

I am a freelance translator, have been recently working closely with two agencies with various projects. Not through this ProZ site but we directly email each other the source files and completed files. Rates and terms of payment have been agreed on email and stated on 'signed contract' or 'purchase order' all on electronically.

I translate between Japanese and English, work from New York, USA. One agency seems to be located in Copenhagen, Denmark, and the other one in Cork and Dublin, Ireland. They both have address and some kind of website/on-line profiles.

Now their payment, for several projects dating back from January (60-90 days since invoice) are delayed and they are both very reluctant to reply my emails of due notice. I started fearing that they might just be scamming me into the free labor, and will ditch me once I start pressing on payment?

Does anyone know what protocol I should follow to these type of negligence? How am I supposed to pursue them legally, in the foreign countries?

Thank you for your advice.
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Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 16:56
Member (2009)
German to Serbian
+ ...
Some ideas. Mar 24

1. You may first check their Blue Board record to see if they are generally bad payers, just insert the agency name in search box and check their 1-5 rating: https://www.proz.com/blueboard

2. You can send reminders by email, make them sound professional but also firm and determined. Right now, due to the current situation in the world they may come up with all sort of excuses so allow some fle
... See more
1. You may first check their Blue Board record to see if they are generally bad payers, just insert the agency name in search box and check their 1-5 rating: https://www.proz.com/blueboard

2. You can send reminders by email, make them sound professional but also firm and determined. Right now, due to the current situation in the world they may come up with all sort of excuses so allow some flexibility due to this (I would say 1-2 weeks maximum). Don't be afraid to send reminders, it's professional to send payment reminders, just like an agency sends a reminder when a translation is late or overdue.

Hope this provided you with some pointers.
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Sheila Wilson
Teresa Borges
Philip Lees
Kuochoe Nikoi-Kotei
 

David Haglund  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 16:56
Member (2012)
English to Swedish
Reminders and then collection agency Mar 24

This is difficult and depends on whether you want to continue working for these companies or not. I normally wait 2 weeks after last payment date and send them a "friendly reminder" that the payment is overdue. I also list the date of the invoice, the invoice no. and the last payment date. Attach the original invoice.

I then I wait a few weeks and send them a second reminder, and then in the third reminder, I threaten to send the invoice to a collection agency. That usually does the
... See more
This is difficult and depends on whether you want to continue working for these companies or not. I normally wait 2 weeks after last payment date and send them a "friendly reminder" that the payment is overdue. I also list the date of the invoice, the invoice no. and the last payment date. Attach the original invoice.

I then I wait a few weeks and send them a second reminder, and then in the third reminder, I threaten to send the invoice to a collection agency. That usually does the trick. I have also had a collection agency chase two invoices: one time successfully, one time they failed and the company folded. Most collection agencies have international partners who can chase down payments, but it will probably cost you a few hundred dollars.

[Redigerad 2020-03-24 15:23 GMT]
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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 15:56
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Are you sure about who and where they are? Mar 24

Toshiro Yamaguchi wrote:
I translate between Japanese and English, work from New York, USA. One agency seems to be located in Copenhagen, Denmark, and the other one in Cork and Dublin, Ireland. They both have address and some kind of website/on-line profiles.

What do you mean by "seems to be located"? Do you have their full registered trading address? That should normally be stated on the invoice -- it's required by law where I live (Spain), but it's in every supplier's interest to state it anyway. If you don't have that, it's difficult to see how you can call on the courts or a debt recovery company to act for you.

The precursor to either route is to send a final demand (Google it for standard wording -- at least in English) to the client's registered address, using registered post and asking your post office for a receipt of delivery to (or rejection by) the client. Your letter should state the facts and demand payment within nn days (allowing time for postal and payment systems). That constitutes legal proof that the client knows of the debt but has failed to react. You can start proceedings once the notice period has passed. Hopefully international mail will still work during lockdowns, but I'm not sure.

Both countries will have small claims court procedures, I'm sure. How viable it would be for you to sue either of them, especially as you're in the USA, will depend on a lot of things of course, but SCCs don't normally charge much or require a physical presence or legal representation. I once used the French courts and had to pay about €30 up front to file online and then a hundred or so because the (ex-)client failed to acknowledge the court order. They changed their tune when the bailiff and police arrived on the doorstep, and I subsequently received the invoice total, all legal expenses, and interest, while they had to hand over double the invoice total to the bailiff .

There are a few things you can/should do straight away to determine the extent of the problem:
- Check them out on the BB and elsewhere as they could be well-known for trying to get away with non-payment. This virus will seem like an ideal excuse to that sort of client. Note that a good or missing BB record doesn't mean anything either way, but a bad one is damning.
- Have you ever received payment from either company? If not, are you sure you're dealing with a legitimate company? Could it be a case of identity theft? If you've only ever replied to the email address you've been given, maybe that's a possibility. Check all the details you've been given against known scams, e.g. Google for company name + "scam", contact name + "scam", etc.
- And check out the postal address on Google Earth -- that may or may not be helpful.
- Then try contacting the company directly through their ProZ.com profile or similar place that seems 100% legitimate (not just the website you've been given).
- If they are genuine and whether or not they seem generally reliable, check their record on their country's register of companies (there's a Wikipedia article giving some links). If they've already filed for bankruptcy then it isn't worth doing anything at all other than registering your claim with the official receiver and hoping. I've had to do that twice and never saw a cent either time .


Teresa Borges
Pertti Hietaranta
 

Helene Haabegaard
Denmark
New user
German to Danish
I have the same problem Mar 30

I'm currently experiencing the same thing with a translation agency in Copenhagen. Maybe it's the same one? I'm based in Copenhagen myself and I translate from German -->Danish, so maybe I could help you research the company you've been working for if it's not the same one. Let's get in touch. You can find me on Facebook or LinkedIn: Helene Schou Haabegaard.

 

Mitzi Lyle
United Kingdom
Local time: 15:56
French to English
Give a collection agency a try? Mar 30

The same thing has happened to me recently, with a Swiss company that has now been banned from posting jobs on here. They paid very regularly until 2019, then went AWOL while owing me money. I have sent them a letter and my outstanding invoices by registered post. It was received but I'm still waiting for the money.

One thing I might suggest is using a collection agency. I haven't done so myself but my partner (a designer) has tried it, on a no-win no-fee basis. It didn't work out f
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The same thing has happened to me recently, with a Swiss company that has now been banned from posting jobs on here. They paid very regularly until 2019, then went AWOL while owing me money. I have sent them a letter and my outstanding invoices by registered post. It was received but I'm still waiting for the money.

One thing I might suggest is using a collection agency. I haven't done so myself but my partner (a designer) has tried it, on a no-win no-fee basis. It didn't work out for him as the client was in Indonesia, but he didn't lose any money by trying. For a debtor in Europe, it might be more straightforward, and you could perhaps claim late payment interests which could help offset the commission you might have to pay to the agency. That's what I might do anyway.

All the best with your quest to get paid!

[Edited at 2020-03-30 15:34 GMT]
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